Table Of Contents

    White House Releases Report on Economic Costs of Climate Change

    On July 29, the White House published a report, “The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change,” revealing that the net costs of climate change mitigation will increase by 40 percent “for each decade of delay” to reduce carbon emissions. Furthermore, the report says a global rise in temperature of 3 degrees Celsius over preindustrial temperatures carries an economic cost of $150 billion annually, equivalent to roughly 0.9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) this year. “Each decade we delay action results in added cost,” said Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). To conduct this report, the CEA examined 16 studies covering more than 100 actions on climate change, and gathered advice on economic policy. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “It’s becoming clearer and clearer that if you care about the deficit, you need to care about climate change. We’ve got a responsibility to leave a stronger country for our children and grandchildren, and that means addressing climate change to help the environment, help the economy, and help the federal budget.” Mr. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), chairman of the House Energy and power subcommittee, commented, “Today’s report reads more like a blueprint to create jobs in China. Our emissions levels are at their lowest in nearly two decades, and yet President Obama, despite tens of billions of dollars already spent, is intent on eradicating the coal industry and its affordable energy and jobs.”

    In related news, on July 31 the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Initiative to Help Modernize Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure, which aims to lower methane emissions from natural gas transmission and distribution systems as part of the White House Climate Action Plan’s methane emissions strategy. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz commented, “We have heard from several different groups about the benefits to finding workable solutions to the problem of methane leakage. These benefits include job creation through pipeline and other equipment replacement, cost recovery for infrastructure investments that increase safety and save energy, and opportunities for addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” The initiative will improve the efficiency of natural gas compressors, as well as conduct research and development to improve the general efficiency of natural gas systems and reduce overall methane leakage. This announcement comes just days after a July 25 report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General finding that the EPA must do more to regulate methane emissions from natural gas distribution systems.

    For more information see:

    New York TimesWall Street JournalTimeWashington PostReportOil and Gas JournalOil and Gas Journal


    EPA Holds Hearings on Clean Power Plan

    This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a series of public hearings on the Clean Power Plan, proposed in May 2014, which would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from currently operating power plants. The hearings were held in Atlanta, Denver and Washington, DC on July 29 and July 30, and in Pittsburgh on July 31 and August 1. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “We know the purpose of this rule is so important, and that’s why we’ve been so focused on the process.” According to EPA, there were more than 1,600 scheduled speakers, and available slots to speak filled up in Atlanta, Denver and Washington a week before the hearings. Thus far the EPA has received more than 300,000 comments on the Clean Power Plan, and they will be accepting comments for three more months (last date to submit a comment is October 16, 2014). Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, said, “This is the main event for climate action in this administration. EPA actually crafted it to be a very broad approach, and so that brings in a large number of actors.” Frances Beinecke, president of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), commented, “It’s the biggest step we’ve ever taken against climate change, which today is already harming our health and environment.” On the other hand, John Pippy, former state senator and now CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, said, “This regulatory attempt to displace coal will have profound and sweeping consequences, not just on the coal industry and its workers, but also on those communities that host coal-fired power plants, those employed at these facilities and every ratepayer who depends upon the reliable provisioning of electricity at competitive rates.”

    For more information see:

    EPABloombergPoliticoTrib Live


    Rep. Cartwright Introduces PREPARE Act to Improve Climate Resilience

    On Thursday, July 31, Rep. Cartwright (D-PA) introduced the PREPARE (Preparedness and Risk management for Extreme weather Patterns Assuring Resilience) Act (H.R. 5314) which addresses the need for government to become more resilient in the face of increasing extreme weather. According to Rep. Cartwright, “In the past two years alone, extreme weather events resulted in: 109 presidential major disaster declarations, 20 events that each inflicted at least $1 billion in damage, and 409 fatalities and $130 billion in economic losses in 44 states caused by these 20 events. We simply cannot afford to ignore the increasing threat of such events in the future.” A 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that extreme weather events will increase due to climate change, and that the federal government does not have a government-wide approach to address extreme weather. The PREPARE Act would create an overarching structure and process requiring agencies to implement resiliency, preparedness, and risk management priorities; facilitate the adoption of these practices at the state, local and tribal level; and establish regional coordination plans to ensure cost-effectiveness and stakeholder outreach. The bill is written to be carried out with zero cost to the government. Cartwright notes that this bill is a win for both political parties and the American people, as “we can spend no money while also having the possibility of saving taxpayers billions of dollars from future extreme weather events.”

    For more information see:

    BillHuffington Post


    Rep. Van Hollen Introduces Cap-and-Dividend Bill

    On July 30, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the “The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014,” (H.R. 5271) a cap-and-dividend approach for carbon emissions reduction. Rep. Van Hollen explained, “by capping carbon emissions, selling permits, and returning the resulting revenue to everyone equally, this ‘Cap and Dividend’ approach achieves the greenhouse gas reductions climate scientists tell us we need to prevent the dangerous consequences of climate change while boosting the purchasing power of American consumers.” The goal of this bill is to lower carbon emissions to 80 percent below 2005 levels before 2050. The bill will create auctions to sell off permits for the emission of carbon dioxide, gradually raising the price of carbon intensive products and creating incentives for people to use more clean energy and energy efficiency technologies. One hundred percent of the proceeds from selling permits will be returned as a dividend to every American with a social security number, adult or child. Van Hollen’s office also said the bill “includes robust border adjustment protections to ensure U.S. companies are not disadvantaged when competing against foreign competitors at home or abroad."

    For more information see:

    New York TimesPoliticoHuffington PostPress ReleaseBill


    Poll Shows a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Has Popular Support

    On Monday, July 21, the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy and Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion released a survey which found that the majority of Americans would support a tax on carbon, depending on what was done with the revenue it generated. The survey found that only 34 percent of respondents supported taxing fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases; however, 60 percent back the tax if the funds were used to research and develop renewable energy, and 56 percent supported it if they received all of the money back in the form of a rebate. The third option, which involved using the tax revenue to reduce the government’s debt, was not popular among respondents. The survey gathered opinions of 800 randomly selected people from across the country between the months of March and April. Co-author Barry Rabe noted that the margin of error, which was plus/minus 3.5 percent, was a good number for a national poll. These results are timely, as Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a cap-and-dividend bill (H.R. 5271) in the House on July 30. According to the report’s authors, “conventional wisdom holds that a carbon tax . . . is a political non-starter. The survey results reported here suggest that this conclusion may be premature.”

    For more information see:

    L.A. TimesUSA TodayPoll


    Senators Convene Two Hearings to Discuss Climate Change

    On July 29, two Senate hearings were held to discuss climate change. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, held a hearing, “Examining the Threats Posed by Climate Change,” which discussed the threats climate change brings to economies and societies. One of the hearing witnesses, Carl Hedde, head of Risk Accumulation at Munich Reinsurance America, Inc., pointed out, “One area where we do see an upward trend is in regard to losses from weather catastrophes, which, over time, have increased in both frequency and severity.” On the other hand, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked, “Anybody else ask themselves this question? What caused this? I know there are a number of theories and everybody [testifying] raised their hand and said, 'Oh, [climate change] is for sure. It's man-made.' Again, I won't deny that man has an effect on our environment. But what caused this?"

    On the same day, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing, “The Costs of Inaction: The Economic and Budgetary Consequences of Climate Change.” The hearing examined the cost of waiting to act to mitigate climate change on the economy, for both the private sector and the federal government. Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA), said, "This [climate change] isn’t just an environmental issue. It also poses serious risks to our economy and the federal budget. And if we fail to address these threats, it will weaken economic growth and increase costs for the federal government." Alfredo Gomez, Director of Natural Resources and Environment at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), also stated in written testimony, “Infrastructure is typically designed to withstand and operate within historical climate patterns. However, according to [the National Research Council] as the climate changes, historical patterns do not provide reliable predictions of the future.” During the question period, all witnesses agreed that climate change is happening. Washington Governor Jay Inslee commented on the hearing, “Taking action to reduce carbon pollution is not only important for our children, our environment and our health, it is essential for our economy. The costs of inaction are simply too high. Meanwhile, there are enormous opportunities in developing the clean energy technologies that will cleanly fuel our homes and businesses for decades to come.”

    For more information see:

    U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public WorksU.S. Senate Budget CommitteeWashington ExaminerWashington State Governor


    Majority of Florida Citizens Want Limits on Carbon Pollution

    On July 25, SurveyUSA and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a poll that shows eight in 10 Florida voters want to limit carbon emissions from power plants. The poll also shows 71 percent of likely voters say they are concerned about climate change. This data means that climate change could be an important factor in Florida's upcoming gubernatorial race, as the survey reports that 60 percent of voters want the state to do more to prepare for climate change. Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott has stated he does not believe in man-made climate change, but his opponent, Charlie Crist, has said he believes climate change is the product of carbon emissions. Susan Glickman, a spokeswoman for NRDC, said, "The takeaway from this poll is simple: People think carbon pollution is a problem, and they think our political leaders should take action and fight pollution." A separate SurveyUSA poll reveals that Crist is currently leading the race by 5 percentage points.

    For more information see: ‘

    Miami HeraldTampa BayPoll


    Pacific Island Leaders Meet to Discuss Climate Change

    From July 29 to August 1, leaders from the 15 countries of the Pacific Island Forum met to discuss climate change issues, maritime protection and public health. Many of the nations represented at the forum are located only one meter (about three feet) above sea level and are directly threatened by rising sea level. Nations in the Pacific have already been taking actions to protect themselves from climate change and mitigate further climate damage. Last year the Forum signed the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, which called for all members to reduce their carbon emissions. These small island nations are some of the smallest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, but they face some of the greatest dangers from rising sea levels. Australia’s recent decision to discontinue its carbon pricing system has been of concern for the other nations of the forum, but has not caused a disruption in climate change actions of other nations. "Climate change is causing the seas to rise at unprecedented rates, increasing the intensity of storms and threatening to wipe entire states off the map," said Tommy Remengesau, Jr., the president of Palau in January during testimony to the United Nations. "Pacific Islands are among those that contribute least to global warming, yet suffer most."     

    For more information see:

    NDTVAustralia Network News


    Canadian Population Supports Action on Climate Change

    On July 19, a poll of the Canadian population by Forum Research found that a large majority believe climate change is happening. A random sampling of more than 1,600 Canadian adults found that 81 percent believe the climate is changing, 13 percent deny the climate is changing, and 6 percent have no opinion. Additionally, 58 percent believe that the changing climate is a result of human activity, while 17 percent believe it to be an entirely natural phenomenon. The results of the poll highlight the disparity between public opinion and the actions of the Canadian government, which recently approved the construction of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. The president of Forum Research, Lorne Bozinoff, said, “It is especially unfortunate that climate change . . . has become hijacked by ideology.”

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    Groundwater Supply in Western United States Far Lower Than Expected

    On July 24, a joint study was published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of California at Irvine, finding that the American West has been rapidly depleting its groundwater resources. The researchers used NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite to find that more than three quarters of the water lost from the Colorado River Basin since 2004, 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, came from underground. The authors concluded that 30 percent more water than was actually available was allocated for use among the basin’s seven states. Groundwater resources do not replenish as quickly as surface water, and the basin has been suffering from a prolonged drought since 2000 – the driest 14 years in the region’s last hundred years. “If [ground water basins] continue to be depleted, they don’t come back up,” said Stephanie Castle, lead author of the study and water specialist at the University of California at Irvine. “This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”

    For more information see:

    Washington PostStudy


    NOAA Study Reveals Ocean Acidification is Drastically Threatening Fisheries in Alaska

    On July 29, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a study in Progress for Oceanography projecting that fisheries in Alaska are already being impacted by ocean acidification from sea water absorption of carbon dioxide, and will experience more impacts in the future. Alaskan fisheries support 90,000 full-time-equivalent Alaskan jobs, are worth an estimated wholesale $4.6 billion on the world market, and are a substantive part of the diet of 20 percent of Alaska’s population (generally native peoples in rural areas). According to the study, the southern, rural areas of Alaska are facing the most severe consequences of ocean acidification. This trend is due in part to low-income, limited employment opportunities, high food prices and great reliance on fish for subsistence in those communities, as well as more rapidly projected acidification and a high quantity of vulnerable species in those areas. Steve Colt, an economist at the University of Alaska Anchorage and study co-author, said, “Ocean acidification is not just an ecological problem – it’s an economic problem. The people of coastal Alaska, who have always looked to the sea for sustenance and prosperity, will be most affected.”

    For more information see:

    Washington PostNOAAStudy


    Air Pollution and Climate Change Threaten Food Security

    On July 27, a study published in Nature Climate Change revealed that ground-level ozone pollution is expected to increase with rising temperatures due to climate change and cause additional damage to food production. The research was conducted by Colette Heald, at MIT, Amos Tai at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Maria Val Martin at Colorado State University. Ground-level ozone is the major component of smog, formed as pollution when emissions from mobile and stationary sources interact with sunlight. Ground-level ozone increases as temperatures rise, and slows photosynthesis and otherwise harms plants, including food crops.  According to a press release from MIT, “While heat and ozone can each damage plants independently, the factors also interact. For example, warmer temperatures significantly increase production of ozone from the reactions, in sunlight, of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. Because of these interactions, the team found that 46 percent of damage to soybean crops that had previously been attributed to heat is actually caused by increased ozone.” The study calculated that climate change is likely to reduce crop yields at least 10 percent by 2050 from 2000 levels. In a “pessimistic” scenario with higher ozone pollution, crop yields would decrease 15 percent by 2050, while the "intermediate” scenario reduced yields 9 percent. The study also calculated that undernourishment — the number of people not getting enough food — would go up 49 percent by 2050 in the “pessimistic” scenario, and 18 to 27 percent in the “intermediate” scenario. “The bad news is that the double barrel damage from air pollution and climate change will be devastating for food security,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.  “The good news is that we know how to clean up air pollution and save millions of lives a year, while significantly improving food security for a growing population.”

    For more information see:

    MIT Press ReleaseHuffington PostIGSD’s Primer on SCLPsIGSD’s Primer on HFCsStudy




    1. Twenty-one Climate Scientists Ask DOE Chief Moniz to Act on Methane Emissions

    2. Evangelical Professor Inspires Students to Take Action on Climate Change

    3. Climate Change Negatively Impacts Native Peoples